WEEE containing VHC and VFC
Under the project "Standard for the Collection, Transportation, Storage and Treatment of Household Refrigerators and Freezers" a set of requirements for the recycling of CFC (chlorofluorocarbons) containing appliances have been developed by the WEEE Forum in co-operation with EERA, the European electronics recyclers, and CECED, the home appliance makers in Europe.
The requirements apply to the separation of controlled substances so that they can be destroyed, dismantled and treated in two steps: Step one for taking CFC/HFC and oil out of the cooling circuits and step two for the separation of CFC/HCFC/HFC from the foam for their destruction and the separation of recyclable and recoverable material (metals, glass, plastics, cables etc.).
Overall the standard consists of a set of minimum requirements concerning collection and storage, output recovery, destruction of controlled substances, quality assurance, inspection and control, and monitoring and reporting.
Other legal requirements such as the dismantling of Hg-switches, PCB containing capacitors, NH3-water-chromate mixtures or requirements derived from the explosion potential of VOC/HC are also included.
This proprietary standard was recently translated into an EN standard on May 2012: EN 50574.
WEEE containing hydrocarbons
Under the project title "Treatment of New Generation Refrigerators and Freezers Containing hydrocarbons (HC)" a set of requirements on how to treat these appliances was developed.
Since the use of CFCs in the production of insulation foams for refrigerators and freezers was restricted in the early 1990s, a new technology based on the use of cyclopentane (CP), which is a hydrocarbon (HC) and part of the category of volatile organic compounds (VOC), was used instead of CFCs by refrigeration equipment manufacturers. Today the CP containing appliances have a substantial share of the total amount of treated refrigerators.
While CFC depletes the ozone in the stratosphere and has global warming potential, HC are strongly related to the ozone formation in the lower troposphere. However, the HC used in the refrigerators and freezers represents in the next years only a very small part of the entire annual VOC emissions.
HC gases are, however, slightly flammable. Therefore the disposal of HC-containing appliances demands protective precautionary measures at the recycling plants.
Since it was generally accepted that no ecologically relevant aspects speak for a separated processing of VOC appliances, representatives of manufacturers, in particular, have demanded a more favourable processing than that for the CFC containing appliances.
The proprietary standards were agreed to by the WEEE Forum, EERA and CECED. They were later integrated into EN 50574, developed under the aegis of CENELEC.
For the WEEELABEX project, which has laid down proprietary standards on all WEEE, see WEEELABEX.